Archive for the ‘Jerryd Bayless’ Category

You guys asked for more frequent episodes of RaptorBlog Radio, and by God, we’re trying to deliver. This week, Scott and I are joined by Jerryd Bayless, who talks about his season, his potential future with the Raptors and the Raptors’ future in general. As usual, Drew Fairservice keeps us afloat with his hosting abilities and Oliver Macklem and Ryan Eligh hold it down and do all of the real work behind the glass.

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After the Bayless interview, we touch on the Ed Davis situation and debate “Davis vs. Amir” for what is likely the first of many occasions. Heck, we even touch on 10-day guys and Scott graces us with another one of his epic rants. So go ahead and click that play button, and if you like what you’re hearing, and want to hear more, share this podcast on twitter, facebook, and whatever other online communities you belong to.

Lastly, don’t forget to ‘like’ RaptorBlog on facebook if you haven’t already.

While Jerryd Bayless torched opposing benches this season and then looked phenomenal in a five-game sample as the Raptors’ starting point guard, Raps fans debated whether Bayless should replace Jose Calderon as the team’s starting point man to finish the season. But they also debated about whether the Raptors should sign Bayless long term (he has a $4.1 million qualifying offer for next season) and what he would be worth if they did extend him.

He’s had his share of injury problems this season, but based on his solid play when healthy and the ever present NBA need for a scoring punch off the bench, most of us assumed the Raptors or another team would give the 23-year-old with a still unreached ceiling a fairly sized contract.

However, once Bayless was sidelined for the season, I thought it could deter any possible competition the Raptors might face for Jerry’s services this summer, assuming Toronto is interested (why wouldn’t they be?). At the very least, I figured Bayless’ absence from the lineup would keep him out of any potential free agent spotlight and cool the RFA talk.

So much for that.

ESPN stats master John Hollinger included Bayless in a column about free agents with potential to be this year’s “Mr. Wright,” as in Brandan Wright, the once unwanted youngster who has carved out a nice role for himself with the defending champion Mavericks. Here’s a couple of snippets as to what Hollinger had to say re: Bayless -

He’s averaging a point every two minutes with a solid TS% (56.1), and he’s not just jacking either — he’s averaged nearly seven assists per 40 minutes over the past two seasons.

Hollinger added this: “While he’ll never be a pure point guard, his knack for getting to the basket and drawing fouls has been complemented this season by a spike to 42.3 percent on 3s. Bayless has “Mr. Wright” potential on other levels too. He was a lottery pick, he’s been traded twice, and he is still only 23.”

It should be noted that Hollinger included players that he believes “should be available for the midlevel exception or less.” That’s one bit of good news for the Raptors.

I was already thinking of writing a quick post in reaction to Hollinger’s recognition of Bayless. As I was cooking that up, I refresh my twitter feed, and see this tweet from astute NBA twitter mind, @HPbasketball:

Perhaps I’m reading too much into a couple of Jerryd Bayless mentions in a span of a few hours, but it appears that people have noticed the type of season Bayless has had.

If NBA media people outside of Toronto took notice, it’s pretty safe to assume NBA executives did as well.

Scott recently stated that he’d like the Raptors to try locking Jerryd up for about three years, at around $10 million to $12 million total. I’d like that deal and agreed with Scott, as I’m sure most of you would as well. But those figures were based on an assumption by all of us that not too many teams will be looking to pay Jerryd.

The Raptors might get more competition for Bayless than any of us originally bargained for. And if there is a team out there with their sights on him, it begs the question, how high are Bryan Colangelo and Raptors management willing to go to secure a high potential, but potentially high risk young combo guard?

News broke on Tuesday evening that Raptors guard Jerryd Bayless is probably done for the season with a partially torn left oblique muscle. Bayless injured himself in the Raptors’ loss to the Knicks last week, suffering what the team called a “hip pointer” at the time.

While he attempted to play through the injury a couple of times, the pain continued to force him to the bench, despite putting up decent numbers as he tried to soldier on.

Two obvious thoughts or questions come to mind with news that Bayless is done for the season. One, has Jerryd Bayless played his last game as a member of the Toronto Raptors? And two, what does this latest development mean for the remainder of the Raptors’ season?

Bayless battled injuries all season, from a sprained ankle suffered in the third game of the season to his recent hip and oblique troubles. When he was healthy this season, I thought he was very good. In the short stretch of games where he started at the point, he was excellent (21.8 points on 54 per cent shooting, 57 per cent from deep, 7.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals), leading some of us to wonder whether he should be given more of an opportunity down the stretch of what is supposed to be a season of development.

Now we’ll never know how Bayless could have built on that impressive string of games. What we do know, though, is that the 23-year-old has about a $4.1 million qualifying offer option for next season. If the Raptors pick it up, and no extension is reached, then next season will be Jerryd’s final chance to prove himself as an important piece of Toronto’s future. If the Raptors don’t use the qualifying offer, or if Bayless is highly coveted by another team, then there is a real chance that he’ll be in another uniform next year.

Jerryd has repeatedly stated that he loves the city and that he wants to be here, and based on his play when he was healthy, you would have to think that Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors would have him back for the right price, so we’ll have to see how this all plays out.

As for the other question, the Raptors will now go forward with Jose Calderon at the point, and very little else. Gary Forbes has played well recently, but he’s far from a true point guard, so if Calderon goes down with an injury (which isn’t exactly out of the question) or if his play goes South as a result of an increase in minutes played, then today’s news may mean that the Raptors tank is about to hit full throttle.

I assume that lack of point guard depth and lack of overall bench depth is why the team signed Ben Uzoh to a 10-day contract on Tuesday.

Most of us wanted this team to lose enough games to grab a top-five draft pick, but we wanted them to improve defensively, be competitive and even throw some upset wins in there to keep both us and the young players interested. For the most part, Dwane Casey and the players have delivered on exactly what we asked for.

What we didn’t want is the Raptors to tank at the expense of the younger players or to tank embarrassingly. Unfortunately, Bayless’ injury (and even DeRozan’s) could be the start of such a tank, regardless of how hard Casey usually has his team playing.

The Raps were well on their way to a 40-plus loss season weeks ago. Subtract Leandro Barbosa and Jerryd Bayless, throw in a banged up DeMar DeRozan and a struggling Andrea Bargnani, and this could get U-G-L-Y.

It was Spike Lee's birthday, in case you're wondering

 Game No. 46: Knicks 106, Raptors 87

The last time the Raptors lost a stinker to the historically feeble Bobcats, they responded with an energetic home victory over the lottery bound Pistons. Despite reinserting Jose Calderon into the lineup, the Raps were far less impressive in their post-Bobcats loss this time around, essentially letting the rejuvenated Knicks have their way all night.

Now here are some thoughts on the game.

1- The Raptors played the Knicks tough in their first two meetings of the season, which the two teams split, but the Knicks were missing one of Amare Stoudemire or Carmelo Anthony in each of those games. With the clubs sporting full rosters against each other for the first time this season, the Knicks’ advantage in the talent department became painfully clear. Though I will say, considering how nonchalant the Raptors’ effort was in this game and how hard the Knicks seemed to be playing, New York didn’t really dominate Toronto as much as they should have. Sure, the final 19-point spread looks dominating enough, but if you watched this game, you surely noticed that outside of a stretch in the third quarter and a five minute stretch in the fourth quarter where the Raptors shot themselves in the foot, the Knicks really let the Raps hang around for most of the night.

2- I mentioned the Raptors’ nonchalant effort above. Nowhere was that lack of effort more visible than on the boards, where the Knicks out-rebounded Toronto 46-30 and tracked down 16 offensive rebounds compared to the Raptors’ measly four. Something as simple as the rebounding numbers can’t always tell the story of a game, but in this case, those numbers put it perfectly.

3- The hot topic of discussion at RaptorBlog on Monday was whether or not Jerryd Bayless should get the starting nod over Jose Calderon for the remainder of the season. In his return to the lineup on Wednesday night in New York, Calderon finished with 11 points on five-of-nine shooting to go with nine assists, a rebound, a block and three turnovers in 35 minutes of action. Bayless was forced to leave the game in the fourth quarter with what the team is calling a “hip pointer,” but finished with some decent numbers considering he played just 13 minutes – seven points, four assists, three rebounds, two steals, two turnovers. An injury that keeps Bayless out of the lineup obviously effects any point guard battle we were hoping for down the stretch, but in a small sample size tonight, I thought he was at least as good as Calderon.

4- DeMar DeRozan was probably the Raptors best player tonight, but that’s not saying much. DeRozan wasn’t particularly good defensively, but he was good enough on the offensive end when he actually wanted to get a shot off. The problem is that DeRozan ended up with just 13 shots, a testament to how his teammates often forget about him and a bigger testament to how DeMar isn’t nearly aggressive enough with his offence. This was the type of game where the Raps needed someone to get to the hoop and score for them to keep the team in it. DeRozan seemed more than capable in the few instances when he did attack the basket, but never looked serious about building on one good offensive trip with another. If ever there was a game where it would have been okay for DeMar to force the issue on offence, this was it. His reluctance to do that is yet another sign of why the 22-year-old is nowhere near ready to become an elite NBA scorer.

5- So the Knicks are playing some decent ball, huh? Since replacing the overrated Mike D’Antoni with Mike Woodson, New York is 4-0, with those four wins coming by 42, 15, 14 and now 19 points, respectively. If you’re counting, that’s an average margin of victory of 22.5 points. The Knicks have shown flashes like this at various points over the last two seasons, only to eventually fall flat on their faces time and time again. The difference this time is that they’re doing it with defence, holding opponents to just 88.5 points per game during the four game stretch. While they have enough talent to be a contender with the right attitude and the right defensive approach, I just can’t see a Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire-led team playing with this level of defensive intensity for an extended period of time. If Woodson can pull it off though, it’s interesting to note that the Knicks are now just four games behind the slumping 76ers for first place in the Atlantic Division.

If New York can ride a wave of defensive momentum to a division title and home court in the first round, they suddenly become a very dangerous team in the Eastern Conference playoffs. If they don’t continue to lock down on defence though, and end up finishing with the seventh or eighth spot, they’ll be a simple first round tune-up for the Bulls or Heat.

6-While the Raptors looked atrocious in this game, are coming off of a loss to the Bobcats and sit at 15-31 overall, a testament to how Dwane Casey is changing the culture of the team came in MSG Network’s pre-game coverage. I sat and watched in amazement as Clyde Drexler talked about how the Knicks were in for a challenge because the Raptors are now a rough and tumble team that will “hack you and wack you” and generally play competitive basketball. Obviously the Raps failed to live up to Clyde’s words in this one, but the fact that people are actually talking about the Raptors as a team that will fight you tooth and nail and not a team that you can simply look past on your schedule anymore is a step in the right direction, as small a step as that might be.

In a measure of that new found competitiveness, this was only the third time in their past 23 games that the Raptors have suffered a double-digit loss, despite the fact that they’re 8-15 during that stretch. For the most part, the last two months have gone pretty much to script for the diehard Tank Nation supporters. Let’s just hope that the team can rebound from this performance, or lack thereof, and show up on Wednesday night against the Bulls, because in case you haven’t been paying attention, that Bulls team will flat out destroy a team that played the way the Raptors did at The Garden on Tuesday.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 37 Min, 17 Pts, 7-13 FG, 3-3 FT, 5 Reb, 1 TO

Knicks Player of the Game: Amare Stoudemire – 34 Min, 22 Pts, 8-13 FG, 6-7 FT, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO (Jeremy Lin’s double-double of 18 points and 10 assists is worth mentioning here too)

And so it begins. The Raptors may be in the early stages of another point guard controversy with news that Jose Calderon is expected back in the starting lineup when the Raptors take on the Knicks at MSG on Tuesday.

It wasn’t that long ago, just a few years really, since the last one.

T.J. Ford was the higher paid, quicker, penetrating point guard who could fill the basket. But he was unpredictable and injury-prone, while the much more efficient and “team-first” Calderon was seemingly dependable. More importantly, Calderon was set to become a free agent, and Bryan Colangelo had to make a decision. Jose was given a lucrative five-year contract, Ford was involved in a trade that brought Jermaine O’Neal to Toronto.

How quickly things change. Now it’s Calderon who is the higher paid starting point guard. Jose’s still a highly efficient, pass-first guard, but like T.J. (though obviously not as severely), Calderon is now the starter with injury problems. Ironically, Jerryd Bayless is now the young point guard the Raptors need to make a decision on, as the lone year remaining on his contract is a $4.1 million qualifying offer.

In the five games since Calderon rolled his ankle in Detroit, Bayless has navigated the Raptors through a 2-3 stretch while playing some of the best ball of his NBA career. In the five contests, all starts for Bayless, he’s averaged 21.8 points on 54 per cent shooting (57 per cent from deep) to go along with 7.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals.

In addition, for a point guard who’s known as a careless turnover machine, Bayless is averaging nearly three assists for every turnover during this recent stretch. It’s nowhere near Calderon’s league leading clip of 4.46, but when a point guard’s giving you a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio while scoring 20-plus points on 50 per cent shooting, there’s really not much about his play to complain about.

This isn’t the first time Bayless has made the most of an opportunity to start, as he finished last season averaging 22.5 points on over 48 per cent shooting through the season’s final eight games. Quite simply, it seems that for now, Bayless performs best in Toronto as a starter.

Calderon is the better pure point guard, but Bayless is looking more and more like the better game changer with each passing contest. I’ve really liked Jose’s play this season, and I was one of the fans who thought he shouldn’t be traded unless the Raptors could get a first round pick or intriguing young asset back in return. But as we’re all painfully aware, this season is about development and seeing what we have in our younger players.

If you ask me, I’d like to see what Jerryd Bayless can do as a starter this week against Jeremy Lin and Derrick Rose. That’s not a knock on Jose, but rather a sign of his movement over the last four years from the loveable underdog in a point guard battle to the steady old guard.